26 January 2013


Once again I have been outwitted. Less than 24 hours after taking possession of my condominium's mandarin bushes, not a single fruit remains on either shrub. Both "EAT ME" signs have also been removed. Now I am talking well in excess of 300 fruits. I arrived home yesterday to discover this. The once glorious and heavily laden Mandarin Orange trees now look very sad without their golden fruits. 

I am a little sad myself.

I marched down to the security control room to see if the dopey guard knew anything of their disappearance. Unsurprisingly he was dozing. I took some small joy in rapping on the window and seeing him jerk awake. He nearly fell out of his chair. Rubbing sleep out of his eyes he quickly recognized who I was and instead of the normal stare of anxiety that I was now accustomed to - his narrow little lips curled up in a self contented smirk. 

"Who has taken all my fruits?" I enquired

"They have been eaten" he responded. I could hear some smugness in his voice

"Who has eaten them?" I demanded

The fucker shrugged his shoulders in reply. He was still smirking. I could see that his little belly was swollen with what I suspected were copious amounts of mandarin oranges.

"Ok" I smiled and then I walked away.

I could tell that my smile had disarmed him a little as his smirk had disappeared and a furrow of worry appeared on his brow.

This was my own fault. I should have anticipated such an act.

With the coming of the Chinese New Year it is customary for people to give Red Packets - known locally as Ang Pow - to one's Helpers. These are envelopes containing cash and are an expression of appreciation for people less well off than oneself. I have always given Ang Pows to my cleaner, the gardeners and the security guards at my complex. 

The amount of money given in each Ang Pow depends on the relationship between the giving and receiving parties - and their social standing. The amount of money given must always be an even number though. Amounts ending with 8 are very popular. The number 8 is important in Chinese culture as it symbolizes both prosperity and luck. In Singapore the most popular amounts given in an Ang Pow are $18, $68, $168, and $888. 

I normally give $68.

An amount that ends or includes the number 4 is usually avoided in Ang Pows. The word for the number 4 in Mandarin - and in fact most of the Chinese dialects - is very similar to the word for death, so the worse amount to give in a red packet is $44. It is very bad luck.

Guess what dopey is getting this year?

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